10 tips for a successful wine tasting party

February 19th, 2014

10 tips for a successful wine tasting

By Joseph Temple
A wine tasting party is one of the most popular event ideas for the branches of the International Wine and Food Society. Whether at a restaurant or a private home, it’s a great way to increase your knowledge of wine while giving our members a chance to interact and engage with each other in a relaxing and friendly environment.
But what if you’ve never held one before?  Don’t worry – in addition to a well ventilated room, white lighting and clear colorless glasses, here are ten helpful tips to guide you through your first wine tasting:
No Perfumes or Colognes for your wine tasting

1.  No Colognes or Perfumes

A vital aspect to any successful tasting is the ability to use your nose.  Smelling the wine’s aromas before you take that first sip enhances the entire experience.  So tell your guests not to put on any strong colognes, after shaves or perfumes which can disguise their sense of smell.

No Smoking at your Wine Tasting

2.  No Smoking

In this day and age, it should be a given.  However, for many smokers, wine and cigarettes are like peanut butter and jelly – they just go together.  But for the sake of other guests, make sure your tasting is done in a non-smoking environment.  Like perfumes and colognes, the smell of smoke will hinder the whole tasting experience.

Use white tablecloths for your wine tasting

3. The color white is your best friend

Another key element for any successful tasting is the ability to judge the color of your wine.  So if the backdrop or tablecloth in the room contains multiple or dark colors, this task is now much more difficult.  Therefore, if possible, choose a room with light colored walls for your tasting and make sure the tablecloths are white.

Blind wine tasting

4. Make it a blind tasting

For your party, you don’t want anyone’s bias towards a particular wine to affect the outcome.  And since many bottles have both good and bad reputations, a blind tasting eliminates any subjective influencing while enhancing the suspense of the entire night when finally, the wines everyone has been judging are  revealed.  To do this, disguise the bottles by placing them in brown paper bags or by wrapping shelf paper around each bottle.  Then use a maker or pencil to identify each wine as either “A, B, C…” or “1, 2, 3 …”

Wine Tasting Score Card

5. Have scorecards and pencils for each guest

In order to see which wines end up on top, provide each guest with a score card or sheet and a pencil so they can assign their ratings.  If you want the scorecard to be geared towards beginners, download and print off one like this.  For more challenging cards, where the people at your tasting are judging a wine’s clarity, color, etc.., try using this or a similar card.

Water and Spittoons for your wine tasting

6. Provide a glass of water
to each guest and spittoons

Tasting so many wines in such a short period of time without rinsing can play games with your palate.  So give your guests a chance to cleanse their mouths with either a glass of water or a spittoon (or something they can spit the wine out into if they choose).

A thematic wine tasting

7. Compare “like with like”

To provide your palate with the best training, find a common link by trying what’s called a thematic tasting.  For example, choose one grape variety from different regions or the same type of wine but from different producers or the same wine across an array of vintages.

Wine Tasting Order 8. If you want to taste many wines,
follow this order:

  • White before Red
  • Dry before sweet
  • Light Body before Full Body
  • Young before Old
Wine Tasting Glassware

9. Choosing the right glassware

In addition to being clear and colorless, a tasting glass should have a generous rounded bowl, a sufficient stem with which to hold the glass and be spotlessly clean.

Don't Drink and Drive

10. Be responsible

As the host, its your job that everyone who attends your wine tasting arrives home safely.  So make sure that nobody who plans on getting behind the wheel has too much to drink.


Did we miss anything?  Comment below if you have any other suggestions or share your wine tasting experiences.

February 19th, 2014

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